Every film genre has its iconic actors who define it, actors who personify it and also popularize it.
What is the first name that comes to your mind when you think about drama? Is it Meryl Streep or maybe Robert De Niro?
What about comedies? You have heard about Jim Carrey and Robin Williams, haven’t you?
When it comes to the action movie genre the name Jean-Claude Van Damme simply cannot be missed. It is probably one of the most recognizable names in the industry and there are plenty of reasons why.
Van Damme’s rise in Hollywood has started in the late 80’s with legendary box office hits such as “Blood Sport”, “Kickboxer” and “Double Impact”.
Later, he continued to establish his name starring in big productions like “Universal Soldier”, “Timecop”, John Woo’s “Hard Target”, “Street Fighter” and “Double Team”.
By the mid 90’s Van Damme was already an international sensation, a wealthy man, and a demanded action star.
Also known by his nickname “The Muscles from Brussels”, Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg was born in 1960 in Brussels.
He started training Karate at the age of 12 and during his adolescence, he participated in many fighting championships in Belgium.
Jean has gained a second-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate. He is also highly trained in kickboxing and his record includes a total of 19 fights and 18 wins, all with a knock-out.
As history shows, every rise is followed by a fall. After making some big box office hits, his movies started to fail commercially in the late 90’s- “Sudden Death” (1995), “Maximum Risk” (1996) and “Knock-off” (1998) didn’t return their investments, although the fans liked them.
Harsh times started for Van Damme during that period. He became a cocaine addict, suffered from depression, got broke and went through an emotionally draining divorce.
In the dawn of the 2000’s he still appeared in martial arts action films this time released only on the direct to video/direct to Blu-ray market. The most famous films from this period are “In Hell” (2003), “Second in Command” and “Hard Corps” (2006).
His theatrical return waited until 2008 when Jean played the leading role in the critically acclaimed crime drama “JCVD”.
In this film, Jean portrays himself as an unlucky actor who is struggling to overcome his personal and professional issues-a reflection of his own ruined life by that time.
The movie was a huge success and marked the return of Jean on the big screen. He got a huge round of applause for his genuine and sincere autobiographical performance.
The critics ranked his acting as the second best of the year after Heath Ledger’s exhilarating portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Night”.
However, the Muscles from Brussels continued to make primarily direct to video action films, mainly shot in Bulgaria or Thailand.
In 2012 he received a call from Sylvester Stallone with an offer to play the role of the villain in “The Expendables 2”-the upcoming sequel to the eponymous action hit from 2010.
If you have watched this outstanding movie then I’m sure that you have definitely liked the badass Van Damme. The role was made for him and helped him restore his faded glory.
Speaking of sequels, Jean-Claude has reprised his role of Luc Deveraux in “Universal Soldier” three consecutive times, starring along fellow martial arts actors Michael Jay White, Dolph Lundgren and Scott Adkins.
Also, in 2016 an alleged reboot of “The Kickboxer” (1989) was released on direct-to-video, starring JCVD, Dave Bautista and Gina Carano. The martial arts action flick is a great addition to the funny action movie genre.
Unfortunately, those funny action movies haven’t charmed the critics but the true fans liked them a lot.
Upcoming Projects To This Date…
In 2016, Amazon Studios have announced that they will be producing the TV- series “Jean- Claude Van Johnson”– an action comedy starring JCVD again as himself.
In this funny drama, Jean plays a retired action movie star who is forced to bring on the surface his alter ego-an undercover agent named Jean-Claude Van Johnson. While facing life menacing troubles, he must deal with personal issues related to love and redemption.
The first episode aired on 19 August 2016 and received more than positive comments. Apparently, Jean is most successful when he plays himself and throws jokes about his life and career.
Another sequel to “Kickboxer”-“Kickboxer: Retaliation” is already in production. The action gem is expected to hit the market in 2017 and stars JCVD, Christopher Lambert and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson– the oversized strongman who played The Mountain in “Game of Thrones”.
Jean-Claude Van Damme has earned the respect of the audiences and the movie critics through his hard work, dedication, and great charm.
His trade mark-the famous round sidekick is known all over the world and triggers big applause every time Jean is asked to perform it.
He achieved a legendary status in the martial arts cinema industry and is quoted by actors such as Scott Adkins as their inspiration.
The famous video game “Mortal Kombat” is based on him. The character Johnny Cage is entirely conceived according to Van Damme’s looks and style in “BloodSport”.
Jean-Claude is known for his friendly attitude, big sense of humor and the love he has for his fans.
He is very active on social media and maintains his own Facebook page where he regularly puts funny videos.
Jean-Claude on Wikipedia.
Jean Claude on IMDB
Jean-Claude on Facebook
Jean-Claude on Twitter